Art counselors and field personnel from The Middle East Children’s Institute (MECI) recognize the power of healing and therapeutic psychosocial support in fine arts. Impact and success of the fine arts program are reflected in the following results:
• Decreased acute symptoms of depression and aggression similar to PTSD
• Encouraged students to express their feelings through the formation of self-expression
• 50% increase in children articulating (verbally and non-verbally) feelings of improved self-esteem and positive self-image
• Developed students' ability to express and declare their challenges in facing problems
For students grades 1-4 in MECI’s Elementary Girls Program,Art Counselor, Amal Hajaj, observes, “Art plays a role in expanding environmental knowledge for students, including how to recycle and understand environmental exploitation of raw materials. Art has also increased students’ ability to innovate and learn new skills.
Khalid Jahjouh, Senior Program Officer for MECI, who holds a Masters in Expressive Arts Therapy, describes benefits of the program
“Fine arts is a basic tool for children to express themselves through projects that give them discipline. Fine arts help children recover from different life problems and traumas. Children are attracted to fine arts therapy more than speech therapy because it allows them to express themselves in an indirect way. They feel less threatened and more comfortable. Art plays a basic role in empowering children, making them feel productive, assertive, and connected to his or her inner emotions.”
“Art therapy is flexible and more simple than other kinds of therapies. Children feel they are in control of the process, giving them the freedom to select what kind of colors and papers they want to use. This may seem simple, but it encourages children to do better in decision making in their future. The therapist is playing the role of a facilitator, guiding children to express themselves and focus on the positive things in the art productions, at the same time, helping children process and alleviate negative feelings. This focus on positive play helps children build confidence; thus, boosting positive self-image and opening their outlook to the world in an optimistic way.
For students grades 1-6 in MECI’s Elementary Boys Program, Art Counselor, Naheda Wasfi, observes, Art increases students' ability to focus through time-controlled projects. We also observe greater fine motor skills in micro strengthening of the muscles used to tightly handle scissors and the formation of clay putty.